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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

I-735 seeks to limit corporate campaign money by urging constitutional amendment

Washington voters can ask their elected representatives to do something about large donations to political campaigns this November, but their lawmakers won’t have to say “yes.”

Initiative 735 would “urge” Washington’s congressional delegation to propose a constitutional amendment that says rights belong only to individuals, not to corporations, and that freedom of speech doesn’t cover spending money.

If Congress sends an amendment to the state, the initiative also urges the Legislature to ratify it.

There are no penalties in the initiative for federal or state lawmakers for not supporting such an amendment.

It’s aimed at reversing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that critics say is pumping unlimited cash from wealthy donors into campaigns. Congress won’t act on its own to overturn the decision with a constitutional amendment, I-735 supporters say, so members need a push.

Opponents say such an amendment could lead to government censorship and Congress shouldn’t mess with the First Amendment.

The proposal started as an initiative to the Legislature, supported by two separate groups that paid to collect signatures in 2015 to put it before lawmakers this year. They didn’t pass it, so I-735 goes before voters for the final say.

Between them, the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution and Fix Democracy First have raised more than $600,000.

Two members of a group calling itself Keep the First Amendment wrote the opposition statement in the state Voter’s Guide, but that group has not filed campaign reports with the Public Disclosure Commission.

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